As someone who preaches regularly, I am always asking the questions about preaching. Questions such as: Why do we preach? What is the goal of preaching? How do we define a win when it comes to the sermon?
I’ve heard a lot of sermons, both good and bad. I have preached a lot of sermons, both good and bad. In a day and age when many people believe that the sermon is an irrelevant form of communication, I believe it’s a lost art that needs to be rediscovered. One of the reasons I think we get so board with preaching is because sermons have slowly drifted from primarily being about God and what he is doing in the world, to being a Sunday morning therapeutic self-help pick-me-up.
While I’ve wrestled over the years with the question of the sermon’s purpose, here’s how I currently answer that question… in no particular order.
1. Beauty: Beauty is a powerful. It has the power to mesmerize, captivate and change us. Therefore, the sermon should be a beautiful word portrait that reveals the nature and character of God and his Kingdom as seen in Jesus Christ.
2. Story: We are story formed people. Different types of stories are playing out all around us all the time and vying for our allegiance. The most dominate stories of our western culture are the stories of autonomy, isolation, individualism, consumerism and self-sufficiency. Gospel preaching should call people out of allegiance to these alternative stories and call us into God’s redemptive Kingdom story.
3. Idolatry: We are worshipping beings. We can’t not worship. We were created to worship. However, in our flesh we are prone to worship creation rather than the creator. All through scripture there is warning after warning about worshipping false gods. Gospel preaching should reorient our worship vertically rather than horizontally.
4. Renewal: Too often salvation is presented as a static one time event that happened in the past. However, the way that we enter the Kingdom (repentance and faith) is the same way that we make progress while in the Kingdom. Gospel preaching should continually renew our faith through repentance so that we give more of ourselves to God. To say it another way, gospel preaching is about how I have been save, I am being saved and I will be saved.
5. Methodology: Gospel preaching doesn’t focus on rules, how to’s or tips and techniques, but rather the nature and character of God and his Kingdom. God and His Kingdom should be the main subject of our preaching not us.
6. Posture: In preaching the gospel our goal should not be to master the text as much as it should be to have the text master us.
7. Desire: Information alone doesn’t change hearts. In order for a heart to be fully surrendered to God, desire must be cultivated. In order to fully follow Christ we have to be fully in love with Christ. Gospel preaching should be more than just bible information, but the wooing of a beloved to their lover.
Now, I am not saying that every sermon should do all of these things all the time. That would be impossible. But what I am after is preaching that is more than just bible information. It also needs to be more than a pep talk that makes us feel good about ourselves. A good sermon should be one that invites and challenges us to take that next step forward to a more fully surrendered and God honoring way of life. It should draw us deeper and deeper into the story and reality of God.
What would you add to this list?
What would you take away?